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Penn State Urges Court to Stop Subpoenas in Board of Trustees Election Lawsuit

by on August 06, 2014 11:57 AM

Penn State University has asked a court to stop subpoenas for depositions in a lawsuit over the handling of the Board of Trustees election.

Former state representative Jesse Stairs, who was unsuccessful in the May board of trustees election at Penn State filed a lawsuit against the university as a way to challenge the election results.

Stairs was one of three agriculture candidates on the ballot and lost by one vote. Delegates of the agricultural societies elected Betsy Huber with 89 votes and Keith Masser with 124 votes. Stairs earned 88 votes.

This week, Penn State asked the Centre County Common Pleas Court to stop Stairs' attorney, Dean Piermattei of Harrisburg, from executing subpoenas for depositions related to the election.

In the Aug. 4 document, Penn State's attorneys ask the court to enter a protective order prohibiting the depositions requested by the plaintiffs, arguing the requests are premature and part of a discovery phase, which the case has not reached yet. The university also asks the court to order that Stairs file a petition outlining his claims and request for relief.

Penn State says Stairs wants to conduct the depositions before filing a complaint outlining the violations he's alleged to have occurred.

"Ostensibly, the depositions are requested to assist in preparation of a complaint," the document says. "There simply is no need for any discovery prior to the filing of a complaint in this case, and no basis for seeking such discovery if he is required to file a petition in Orphans' Court."

Penn State also takes on Stairs' claims that the university is delaying the case.

"There is no doubt that any delay in this case has been caused, and is being caused, by Mr. Stairs himself," the document says. "The parties clearly have a dispute. The quickest way to resolve the dispute is for Mr. Stairs to assert his claims and demand for relief, for the defendants to respond, and for the legal process to reach a final resolution after any permitted discovery and hearings. Mr. Stairs is not being prejudiced by not being permitted to take depositions prior to the proper filing of his claim."

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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